Any Other Business: 28 January 2022

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB looks at the latest e-commerce news from around the world including the software solution helping retailers ease the financial burden of product returns, and the surprising item filling shoppers’ baskets ahead of this Valentine’s Day.

man sealing a brown package

AI-powered solution seeks to ease returns problem for retailers

Online retailers suffering the headache of high returns rates should take notice of start-up Seel1. The company operates as an e-commerce returns underwriter, allowing online merchants to transfer the liability of product returns over to them.

The solution is free for merchants – instead, the shopper who opts in for Return Assurance pays the fee at checkout, which Seel’s AI software calculates based on the probability of an item being returned. Then, if said item is returned within 30 days of sale, Seel pays the refund instead of the merchant.

“Merchants typically won’t know their true revenue until the return window expires six to eight weeks after an order is sold,” co-founder Zack Peng explains2. “That means they often have to reconcile refunds, correct financials and adjust marketing plans for orders sold weeks ago. Instead, [with Seel,] they can pay a variable return assurance fee when an order is sold, and instantly lock in the net revenue and streamline a significant amount of revenue operations.”

Seel currently has around 200 merchants using the solution – which can be integrated via a Shopify app – whilst the number of customers opting to pay for the add on is nearly 25%. The company claims that merchants see, on average, a conversion lift of 5% after adding Return Assurance.

image of two cities

Shopify partnership will help brands sell to China

A new partnership between Shopify3 and JD.com4 will facilitate an easier path for US sellers wishing to reach Chinese consumers. US-based e-commerce brands will be able to list products on JD’s cross-border e-commerce marketplace, JD Worldwide – an accelerated channel that will reduce the time to market from 12 months to just 3-4 weeks. Sellers will also benefit from access to JD.com suppliers, order fulfillment from JD’s US warehouses, smart price conversion to local currency, and translation of product names and descriptions on the Shopify listings.    

“We believe that the partnership will unlock the huge potential of the Chinese market for brands outside of China,” Daniel Tan, president of JD Worldwide, said5. “At the same time, it will increase cross-border commerce by leveraging our global supply chain abilities, simplifying what has traditionally been a very complicated process.”

hand scrolling on a tablet

B2B marketplaces becoming part of e-commerce mainstream

Online marketplaces used to be the domain of the B2C sector, but the pandemic changed that. Research by Digital Commerce 3606 estimates that sales on B2B marketplaces grew 130% year over year in 2021 to US$56 billion, as businesses from traditionally-offline sectors – such as automotive and agriculture – discovered the benefits of buying and selling goods and services online.

The research also found that B2B marketplaces are now the fastest-growing digital sales channel – last year, sales on them grew 7.3 times faster than total B2B e-commerce sales – whilst highlighting Amazon Business as a dominant force behind the growth.

mobile phone with shopify logo

Shopify’s global stores triple during pandemic

It’s no secret that e-commerce soared during the pandemic, with many small and medium retailers taking the plunge to join the world of online sales. According to research by Genus AI7, Shopify attracted 22,594,798 new stores between March 2020 and January 2022 – a growth of over 200%.  

Budding online entrepreneurs have flocked to the platform for its suite of user-friendly tools which enable them to set up and manage e-commerce businesses without the need for technical knowledge. Currently, the United States hosts the highest number of live Shopify stores, followed by the UK and then Australia.

red roses

Love is in the air…and online

With just over two weeks to go until Valentine’s Day, shoppers are heading online to search for the perfect gifts. Google Trends data8 has tracked a sharp rise in global searches for related words over the last two weeks, including “romance”, “flower delivery”, and, more unexpectedly, “converse”, following the shoe company’s release of a limited-edition Valentine’s Day collection.

Ensure your business is ready for the rush with our 22 golden rules of e-commerce.

1 - Seel

2 - Zack Peng, Tech Crunch, January 2022

3 - Shopify

4 - JD.com

5 - Daniel Tan, Digital Commerce 360, January 2022

6 - Digital Commerce 360, January 2022  

7 - Genus Artificial Intelligence, January 2022

8 - Google Trends, week commencing 17.01.22